COME sit awhile.
(min cost $8)
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That is both the title of and the invitation given by a new statue unveiled on Monday on the grounds of the historic Cathedral of St Michael and St John.
A hardy crowd - which included members of the Sisters of Mercy - gathered in a freezing December wind to see the Come Sit Awhile - Catherine In The Garden sculpture and two images of St Mary's College blessed and presented.
They have been gifted to the Catholic Diocese of Bathurst by the Sisters of Mercy.
New Zealand-born sculptor Gael O'Leary's work depicts the foundress of the Sisters of Mercy, Catherine McAuley, and is based on her initial sculpture of the same figure that was commissioned by the Institute of the Sisters of Mercy of Australia and Papua New Guinea and located in the Institute Centre garden in Stanmore, Sydney.
"Since we began the work of the restoration of the cathedral, I was always keen, and we all were, that there would be suitable acknowledgement of the Sisters of Mercy and all the people who worked on this have found, I think, the ideal place and the ideal sculpture to do it," Bishop Michael McKenna said of the sculpture.
He said the images - of St Mary's College - on the cloister wall are located where the Mercy Convent joined the cathedral for many years.
"The history of the Sisters of Mercy in this region is completely entwined with the history of the diocese. You can't separate the two," he said.
Bishop McKenna said that, when he first saw pictures of the Catherine McAuley sculpture, he thought of a story told to him by one of the Sisters of Mercy.
"She said our novice mistress used to take us for a little walk around and then there was a seat there and she would sit us down on the seat and just gently, simply instruct us about how to pray," he said.
"I think that spirit is represented beautifully here in this statue."
The sculpture unveiling on Monday was held on the same day that, in 1831, Catherine McAuley, Mary Ann Doyle and Mary Elizabeth Harley professed their vows as Sisters of Mercy in Dublin, Ireland, establishing a new religious order in the church.
Seven Sisters came from Charleville, Ireland in 1866 with Bishop Matthew Quinn to "engage in works of mercy in the Bathurst Diocese".
The guests at Monday's unveiling included Sister Eveline Crotty, Sisters of Mercy Institute Leader.
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